National County Government Month (NCGM), held each April, is an annual celebration of county government. Since 1991, the National Association of Counties has encouraged counties to actively promote the services and programs they offer. Counties can schedule activities any time during the month. NCGM is an excellent opportunity for your county to highlight effective county programs and raise public awareness and understanding about the various services provided to the community.
NCGM’s 2019 theme is “Connecting the Unconnected,” which is consistent with NACo President Greg Cox’s initiative and focuses on how counties deliver “people-centered” services to their residents. Read about the initiative here and download NCGM resources below for more information and ideas for how your county can participate in NCGM.
If you have questions about National County Government Month, please contact Brian Namey at BNamey@NACo.org or 202.942.4220.
Dear Fellow County Leader,
If there’s one thing I’ve seen time and time again during my years of service, it’s the importance of local government. We know that local government works. We pursue solutions and achieve results. We are closest to the people, and they rely on us in both good times and bad.
But how do we connect people in our counties? How do we make sure that residents know about the services we and our many partners provide? Ever day, we see that when people are left behind and isolated, it creates unhealthy, negative consequences in our communities.
As NACo’s president, I wanted to find ways to recognize the work counties are doing to deliver “people-centered” services, maximize government efficiency and ensure responsible stewardship of taxpayer dollars. That’s why we launched the Connecting the Unconnected initiative, which is also this year’s theme for National County Government Month.
During the month of April, we encourage you to feature county programs and initiatives that inform and illustrate how counties help all of our citizens, including our most vulnerable, forge pathways to live well and thrive. This toolkit provides ideas on how you can raise public awareness of how your county is Connecting the Unconnected.
We hope that you’ll nominate some of your best county innovations for our annual Achievement Awards so we can promote your successes and share your best practices with all NACo members. The deadline to apply is March 25, and Achievement Award winners will be announced in April, in time for you to be recognized at NACo’s Annual Conference in Clark County (Las Vegas), Nevada, July 12 – 15. Apply today at www.NACo.org/AchievementAwards.
How is your county Connecting the Unconnected? Use National County Government Month to showcase your accomplishments and let your residents know how your county is leading the way.
The Hon. Greg Cox
Supervisor, San Diego County, Calif.
Connecting the Unconnected: A progress report
April is National County Government Month and a chance to show how counties make a difference in people's lives.
This year’s theme is ‘Connecting the Unconnected.’
National County Government Month (NCGM) is an annual celebration of county government held each April. Since 1991, the National Association of Counties has encouraged our members to actively promote county services and programs. Counties can schedule activities any time during the month. NCGM is an excellent opportunity for your county to highlight effective county programs and raise public awareness and understanding about the various services provided to the community. Here are a few ideas on how to get started:
Establish a Planning Committee
The committee will plan, organize and coordinate all activities related to NCGM. Committee members should include representatives from the county board, administration, school system and each county department. Additionally, a public information officer or county official experienced in media relations should be included. Consider including a county extension service representative. This could be a staff member, 4-H volunteer or 4-H member. All areas of county government and schools should be involved in the planning process.
Decide How Extensive Your Activities Will Be
Plan activities throughout the month or organize just a few featured events. Hold fun, interactive and informative activities to reach different segments of your community, including students, educators, senior citizens, young families, business leaders and community organizations. Activities should be designed to bring residents to county facilities such as the courthouse, parks, public safety building, public health department or a recycling/waste transfer station. Activities can be planned to deploy county officials to locations where residents are already assembled. Suggestions for activities such as open houses and public tours are described elsewhere in this booklet.
Involve the Media
Be sure members of the local news media are aware of NCGM and the activities your committee has planned. Consider involving a member of the news media in the planning process. Media outreach tips are described elsewhere in this guide. The following pages will provide you and your planning committee several ideas on what to include in your county’s celebration of NCGM.
National County Government Month offers an opportunity to educate residents about county programs, services and responsibilities. It is also an opportunity to promote county priorities. In short, it’s an opportunity to tell the public that Counties Matter.
As part of NCGM, prepare and distribute county fact sheets. Some counties roll out a “County Fact of the Day” or distribute fact sheets representing key county departments, such as public safety, parks and recreation, public works and health. Promote facts and information many residents do not know about but need to know.
Send the fact sheets to the media, post them on the county website and distribute via social media. Fact sheets can highlight county services and programs provided by your county. Examples include:
NACo’s online interactive County Explorer tool is an excellent source of data on every county, parish and borough in America. It includes county and state-specific profiles on issues such as transportation infrastructure, public lands and forest management, community development and others.
A great way to educate residents about county services is inviting them to visit county facilities for an open house or public tour.
Hold an Open House
Feature county departments showcasing the services provided. Arrange for county employees to be available to discuss the services. Schedule guided tours through the building. Use your local historical society or library to create presentations or displays to educate residents about the county’s rich history. If the weather is nice, have the displays outside in the courtyard or a nearby parking lot. Have music, face painting, balloons, refreshments and entertainment for children. Make it a fun and interesting learning experience for the entire family.
Schedule public tours at county facilities such as health facilities, parks, libraries, courts, recycling/waste transfer stations, and public safety buildings. Reach out to community groups, such as service clubs, 4-H and scouts and encourage them to come as a group to see how various county facilities operate.
Bring Information to Residents
Hold public outreach events at the shopping mall, senior center, recreation center, county library or other location where people are expected to gather. Arrange to set up displays, provide county fact sheets and brochures and conduct presentations on county services. Work with the county extension service to spread the message about what counties do.
Hold a Jobs Fair
Highlight your county’s workforce development and employment services at a “county jobs fair.” Partner with the chamber of commerce and local businesses to educate job seekers about the skills and education local employers are looking for.
Encourage residents to volunteer their time and talents to the community. Organize fellow county officials to spearhead a specific community service project and ask others to volunteer. Ask residents to volunteer their time to visit the elderly, disabled and ill in county hospitals and nursing homes. Ask residents to volunteer their services to assist area non-profit organizations such as those who serve veterans, seniors, juveniles, foster children, homeless persons, the mentally ill and domestic violence victims.
Every day, in counties across America, national service is tackling tough problems and strengthening communities. On April 2, 2019, as part of National County Government Month, county leaders are encouraged to recognize the impact of national service and thank AmeriCorps members and Senior Corps volunteers by participating in the Mayor and County Recognition Day for National Service.
April 2, 2019
On this April 2, 2019, county executives, board chairs and board members, along with city officials and tribal leaders, will hold public events to highlight the impact of national service in the nation's counties and cities and inspire more citizens to serve. Last year, 4,520 mayors, county officials and tribal leaders representing 194 million Americans participated in the day (including more than 1,230 county officials).
The initiative is led by NACo, the National League of Cities, Cities of Service and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). As the federal agency for national service and volunteering, CNCS annually engages millions of citizens in service at more than 50,000 locations. Through AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, the Social Innovation Fund and other programs, CNCS leverages federal and private funds to support organizations that achieve measurable results where the need is greatest. Whether supporting food banks and homeless shelters, restoring parks, building homes, providing health services, strengthening public safety and juvenile justice services and managing community volunteers, national service members help local leaders tackle tough problems.
County governments have a broad range of responsibilities to residents, which matches CNCS's mission to improve lives, strengthen communities and foster civic engagement. A coordinated day of recognition presents a unique opportunity to spotlight the key role that national service and volunteering plays in helping counties solve problems. Participating in the day will highlight the impact of citizen service, show support for nonprofit and national service groups and inspire more residents to serve in their communities.
All county board chairs, board members, county executives and other county officials are encouraged to participate. Suggested activities include holding a thank you event, issuing a proclamation, visiting a national service program, joining a service project, taking a group photo with national service members and using social media to thank those who serve.
Contact: Tess Mason-Elder, CNCS Office of Government Relations, 202-606-6873 or email@example.com.
Be sure to include schools in your National County Government Month activities to enable students to begin learning about county government.
Presentations in Schools
Plan visits to schools by various elected and appointed county officials. Discuss interesting historic facts about the county, such as famous residents or important events. Discuss how county government is structured and define its roles and responsibilities. Explain how the county works in conjunction with the state and federal government. Consider organizing a panel discussion with residents who have been positively affected by county programs. Make information on county government available to teachers to use in presentations or as part of their lesson plans.
Plan career days at local high schools. Share information about various occupations within county government such as sheriff deputies, police officers, social workers, nurses, court clerks, tax collectors, elections officials, parks and recreation employees, transportation department workers, librarians, corrections officers, firefighters and emergency dispatchers. Emphasize the essential services that these public servants provide each day to the community.
Tours of County Facilities
Encourage schools to set up tours of county offices and facilities. The approach should be part of a class lesson plan on government structure, the legislative process, public safety, healthcare and other services.
County Official for a Day
This is a popular activity for many students. High school students interested in government could be part of a program to become a county official for a day (i.e.: “shadow” a county official) and share the experience with other students.
For younger students, sponsor a poster, essay or coloring contest involving the “Counties Moving America Forward: Transportation and Infrastructure are the Keys” theme or other county government theme.
Offer to teach a class at the community college or give a lecture. The topics could include healthcare, green government, economic development, technology, public safety, disaster preparedness, infrastructure and transportation or careers in county government.
Encourage college and high school students to address issues affecting local government through debates. Hold the debates in classrooms or as part of a high school assembly.
Counties Work Online Game, County Solutions Classroom curriculum & My County Works Activity book
As part of NCGM, tell students and educators in your county about the “Counties Work” online educational game, the “County Solutions” classroom curriculum and the “My County Works” activity book for young children developed by NACo and our partner, iCivics.
The “Counties Work” game has been updated for tablet and app compatibility for a wider scope of user experience. We also expanded the “County Solutions” curriculum to include both middle and high school instruction. A classroom visitation guide for NACo members is also available.
The game educates students about local government functions by letting them run their own county. While playing, students are responsible for providing services, dealing with citizen requests, setting and raising revenues and working within a budget. Along the way, students will learn about the various services provided by county departments while having to make tough decisions.
These are great opportunities for students to better understand the programs and services counties provide. Be sure to contact teachers, principals, curriculum directors and school superintendents in your county to let them know the game, curriculum and activity book are available free of charge to assist teachers with preparing lessons on county government.
Contact: Lindsey Maggard, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202.661.8824
National County Government Month is an ideal time to discuss national policy issues affecting county government with members of Congress who represent your county.
During NCGM, schedule a meeting with your congressional representative(s) or key staff in your congressional district office. Use the meeting to explain the great challenges facing your county and how Congress can help.
Many important issues are being debated nationally that affect counties. Be prepared with facts and information about how specific federal issues affect your county. Know where your member of Congress stands on important issues and on which committees he or she serves. Your message should be focused, compelling and relevant. To find out about NACo’s 2019 Legislative Priorities and obtain fact sheets on current national issues important to counties, visit the advocacy section of the website.
Contact: Deborah Cox, email@example.com, 202.942.4286
Contact: Lindsey Maggard, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202.661.8824
This is your one-stop online shop for NCGM design templates to produce your county’s own posters, flyers, banners, proclamations and buttons.
These additions are sure to enhance the festive atmosphere of your NCGM events. Each template is specially designed for the 2019 theme, “Connecting the Unconnected.” Each template contains the NACo and NCGM logos. Plenty of space is available for you to add your county’s seal or unique county government month slogan or message. If you find something you want to use, download the file and add your county’s local touch.
Media Relations Strategies
Careful planning is essential to maximize public awareness of National County Government Month activities and the county services and programs you are highlighting. Here are effective ways to help secure positive news media coverage.
Educate the Media
Inform local reporters, editors and broadcasters early and often about NCGM and your county’s plans to celebrate it.
Plan to make News
Coordinate newsworthy events or announcements. You can launch new initiatives, announce plans for new programs or recognize county employees for their excellent public service. Keep in mind that newspapers seek in-depth facts, television stations want good visuals and radio reporters want snappy sounds bites. All reporters seek good stories. They want access to knowledgeable and articulate sources to make their stories interesting and informative.
Publish a Calendar of Events
Publish a calendar of NCGM events on your county’s website. Ask the local newspapers to publish the calendar. Ask the local television, cable and radio stations to air public service announcements about county services or events.
Write Media Advisories
Prepare and send media notices well in advance for specific NCGM events, such as the open house, tour of the hospital or visit to a local school. Describe who, what, where, when and why. Make it newsworthy.
Write News Releases
Have news releases ready to distribute to the media the day of special NCGM events. Highlight what’s new, beneficial and cost-effective. Use lively, concise quotes from appropriate county officials. Provide contact information.
Take Your Message to the Media
Do not assume the news media will cover your events or announcements. Ask for a meeting with the newspaper’s editorial board; volunteer to stop by the television station for an interview; be an in-studio guest on a local radio program. Be accessible, proactive and enthusiastic about county government and the services provided to the community.
Sample news release
INSERT YOUR COUNTY’S LETTERHEAD
CONTACT: Bea Candid
Able County to Celebrate National County Government Month
Everytown, USA (April 1, 2019) — Able County will celebrate National County Government Month (NCGM) during the month of April to showcase how the county connects residents and achieves healthy, safe and vibrant communities.
The theme for this year’s celebration of NCGM is “Connecting the Unconnected,” demonstrating how counties deliver “people-centered” services and connect communities.
Featured NCGM events include public tours of Able County’s most recent economic development projects. Commissioners and department heads will visit childcare centers and hospitals throughout the month of April. The popular “Able County Family Day” will be held on xxx, 2019, which will showcase essential county programs and services.
“Able County is proud of the programs and services we provide to our residents,” said Board Chair Tim Timmons. “Our efforts combined with efforts of counties across the country are helping American communities thrive. I encourage all county residents to take advantage of National County Government Month outreach events to learn how the county can assist you and your loved ones.”
Since 1991 the National Association of Counties (NACo) has encouraged counties across the country to raise public awareness and understanding about the roles and responsibilities of counties.
Able County NCGM public events include:
A full listing of NCGM events is available at: www.ablecounty.gov.
The emergence of social media in recent years provides tremendous opportunities to promote your NCGM events. If you already have a Facebook or Twitter account, use it to promote county government month activities. Coordinate a county government month “social media team” to plan social media outreach efforts.
Sample Social Media Posts
To celebrate National County Government Month, check out the @NACoTweets "My County Works" activity book for elementary students, created in partnership with @icivics. Download your copy today #NCGM #CountiesWork http://www.naco.org/icivics
To celebrate National County Government Month, play the @NACoTweets @iCivics #CountiesWork game, an online game where anyone can simulate the important roles and functions of #county leaders www.NACo.org/iCivics #TeachLocal #NCGM #CountiesMatter
#CountiesMatter: #Counties serve nearly every American every day. Urban, suburban and rural — counties work to keep our communities healthy, safe and vibrant. To learn more, visit www.NACo.org/CountiesMatter #NCGM
#CountiesMatter: #Counties own and maintain 46% of our nation's road miles and 38% of our nation's bridges, and are involved in 78% of public transport systems and the operation of 34% of public airports. To learn more, visit www.NACo.org/CountiesMatter #NCGM
#CountiesMatter: #Counties are involved in promoting public health through 1,943 local health departments, and support over 900 hospitals with more than 58,000 beds. To learn more, visit www.NACo.org/CountiesMatter #NCGM
#CountiesMatter: #Counties operate 91% of all local jails and invest over $35B in 3,041 police and sheriffs' departments and nearly $93B total in justice and public safety services, including 911 call centers. To learn more, visit www.NACo.org/CountiesMatter #NCGM
Social Media Graphics
NACo Media Relations Guide for Counties
The NACo Media Relations Guide for Counties contains helpful tips on speaking with reporters, writing news releases, planning press conferences, and much more.
Contact: Paul Guequierre, email@example.com, 202.942.4271
The National Association of Counties has many programs and initiatives available to assist counties.
Below is a snapshot of some of NACo’s programs designed to help counties thrive. If your county participates in any of these programs, National County Government Month is an excellent opportunity to inform the public about them. If your county does not participate in any of these programs, consider involving your county in one or more of NACo’s programs and announce it during NCGM.
Community Resilience and Economic Development
To help counties implement innovative and effective local programs, NACo provides members with information, trainings and assistance to engage counties and multi-sector partners bound by a common interest in growing stronger, more competitive, more equitable counties and communities. The Community and Economic Development practice area supports county leaders seeking to develop and implement creative, innovative, locally driven strategies that will foster economic growth and ensure long-term county resiliency.
Topics within this practice area include:
- Economic visioning and diversification
- Entrepreneurship and small business development
- Workforce development
- Infrastructure and transportation investments
- Land use planning
- Water resource protection and restoration
- Renewable energy planning, development and management
- Disaster mitigation, preparedness and response, and
- Eco-efficient purchasing and facility management.
Contact: Jay Kairam, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202.942.4261
Prescription, Health and Dental Discount Program
The NACo Live Healthy Prescription, Dental & Health Discount Program provides relief to uninsured and underinsured Americans who face high prescription, health and dental costs. The program is free to NACo member counties and has provided over $690 million in savings to county residents across the country since 2004. The program includes discounts on prescriptions, vision care, LASIK & PRK vision procedures, hearing aids & screenings, prepaid lab work, prepaid diagnostic imaging, diabetic supplies and dental care.
Benefits to Counties and Residents
- Everyone is accepted
- Individual prescription savings of up to 75 percent and overall average savings of 24 percent
- Savings of 15 – 70% for residents on the additional health services
- A network of 68,000+ pharmacies nationwide that accept the discount card, including both local pharmacies and national chains
- 110,000 dentists, 54,000 optometrists and 8,000 ophthalmologists accept the discount card nationally
- Save 15% to 50% on most dental procedures
The program is not insurance. The program is FREE for member counties and affordable for residents:
Prescription Drug Discount Card: Free for Residents
Dental Discount Program: $6.95 month or $69 year for individuals. $8.95 month or $79 year for families
Medical Services: $6.95 month or $69 year for individuals. $8.95 month or $79 year for families
To sign up and get more information please visit www.naco.org/health.
Contact: John Losh, email@example.com, 202.661.8832
Smart Justice Initiative
The Smart Justice Initiative aims to build knowledge and capacity for successful justice policies and practices among the nation’s counties and provide a closer examination of the need for intergovernmental collaboration and public private partnerships in an effort to create safer communities and invest taxpayer resources more effectively. Issues include pre-trial services, post-release service coordination, justice and mental health collaboration, supportive housing, and employment.
Contact: Jay Kairam, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202.942.4261
Stepping Up Initiative
In May 2015, NACo, the Council of State Governments Justice Center and the American Psychiatric Association Foundation launched Stepping Up: A National Initiative to Reduce the Number of People with Mental Illnesses in Jails. Since then, more than 460 counties have joined the initiative.
Stepping Up participants receive a resources toolkit to assist with efforts, including webinars, networking calls, online tools, peer exchanges, conference workshops and a comprehensive resource library. Find out more and join the initiative at www.StepUpTogether.org.
Contact: Nastassia Walsh, email@example.com, 202.942.4289
Healthy Counties Initiative
NACo launched the Healthy Counties Initiative in 2011 to enhance public-private partnerships in local health delivery, improve individual and community health and assist counties in implementing federal health reform. The initiative engages county officials and private sector partners to:
- Fulfill a leadership role in implementing health reform at the county level
- Enhance coverage, access to and coordination of health care for vulnerable populations in the community, including health services in hospitals, community health centers and county jails, while focusing on cost-containment strategies
- Promote community public health, prevention and wellness programs, including increased physical activity and healthy eating
- Participate in the national transition to health information technology and telemedicine, and
- Offer information, ideas and solutions for county government employee and retiree health benefits and programs.
Contact: Jay Kairam, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202.942.4261
Nationwide Retirement Solutions
NACo’s Defined Contribution and Retirement Services Program offers county employees a voluntary, tax-deferred savings opportunity to supplement employer-sponsored retirement plans. It also offers a 401(a) match and stand-alone defined contribution plans. Since NACo’s partnership with Nationwide began, we’ve helped more than 1.5 million county employees and retirees save billions of dollars for retirement.
Tell Us About Your Program
Thank you for your interest in celebrating National County Government Month! NACo wants to know what activities and programs you have planned so we can share this information with other counties to help them have successful NCGM celebrations. Please use the online form on the NACo website or e-mail your activities to Lindsey Maggard at email@example.com. Be sure to send NACo your proclamations, photos and videos of your county’s celebrations. Those files can be sent directly to Lindsey Maggard.
Thank you for your commitment to county government!